With their first Oscars in hand tonight for Skin, their live-action short, director Guy Nattiv and producer Jaime Ray Newman are already looking forward to the release of the feature version, which hits theaters on July 26. “We have a baby Skin, and now a feature Skin,” Nattiv said with a smile, standing in the press room next to his close collaborator and wife.
Linked to the short in its exploration of racial tensions, the feature already has debuted on the festival circuit, premiering at the Toronto Film Festival last fall. Starring Jamie Bell, it follows a heavily-tattooed young man raised by skinheads who elects to transform his life, turning away from the hatred and violence that have driven his actions to that point.
Certainly, the pair’s Oscar win on the path to feature release is a welcome pit stop. Like Whiplash before it—which originated as an award-winning short film before going on to Oscars glory—Skin may capitalize on the increased awareness that awards recognition brings.
Admittedly, though, Nattiv and his producer couldn’t have anticipated the journey they’ve had with the film, in both its forms, to date. “We went on a spaceship and landed here,” Newman told the Oscars press. “I don’t know how this happened.”
“It’s surreal. I will digest it probably a couple of months after the Oscars; its just taking it step by step,” Nattiv added. “I just moved out here four years ago, so to do a short with my amazing wife as a producer and collaborator was a dream, and this is beyond that.”
While Nattiv and Newman were asked to explore the film’s intersection with a world, and a country in which racial tensions continue to be high, the collaborators didn’t take the bait. “I don’t think we were trying to make a political statement necessarily. In the short, we explored [how] what you teach your children is going to influence the next generation,” Newman reflected. “I think the beauty of Guy as a filmmaker is he doesn’t pound anything over your head. [It’s like] ‘I don’t have the answers, but these are the questions.’”
Earlier this month, the short-film version of Skin was acquired by Fox Searchlight. The production company was recognized tonight in the form of a statuette for Olivia Colman, who starred in Yorgos Lanthimos’ wild period piece The Favourite as Queen Anne.